Congressman Jared Huffman makes his big announcement Tuesday | Photos: Andrew Goff



It was a high-powered affair on Woodley Island yesterday afternoon, as people gathered to hear Rep. Jared Huffman officially announce a $426 million Department of Transportation grant to build a port terminal for the coming offshore wind industry. A section of the island’s parking lot was roped off for the event, so that the VIP guests would have a convenient place to park for the ceremony, which took place beneath the Fisherman statue.

And come they did. Supervisors Steve Madrone and Natalie Arroyo were in attendance, as were Eureka Mayor Kim Bergel, Hoopa tribal chair Joe Davis, Jason Ramos of the Blue Lake Rancheria, county administrative officer Elishia Hayes, Cal Poly Humboldt president Tom Jackson, various emissaries from the local business community, harbor district personnel and representatives from the major international firms investing in offshore wind.

Why? As Huffman said when he took the mic, the $426 million grant – all of it originating from President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – is kind of a big deal.

“The federal department of transportation INFRA Grant that we are celebrating today, to my knowledge, may be the biggest federal investment in this region in 50 years,” Huffman said. “It’s a big, big deal. It’s a game-changer. And for those of you that share in the excitement and the vision and all the possibilities that this offshore wind project has brought to this community, this is a huge step forward in making all of that real.”

What will the $426 million pay for? Not only for the dock and warehouse facilities themselves, but for various improvements that, together, are designed to make the new offshore wind facility a true “green port,” which Huffman hoped would “show the way” to other ports around the world.

Harbor Commissioner Greg Dale

An emotional Greg Dale, the chair of the Harbor District’s board of commissioners – the body that will administer this massive cash injection — had a partial list of these green amenities when he followed Huffman at the podium.

“In this $426 million dollar grant, there’s $51 million dollars for environmental restoration,” he said. “$51 million dollars – [the federal government] probably hasn’t spent $51 million dollars on environmental restoration on Humboldt Bay in the entirety of the district’s time as a district.”

Dale also mentioned $10 million for a large solar array, and just over $1 million apiece for a trail and a public access pier. The grant also includes a $6 million community benefits program for “tribe, fishermen and local residents,” Dale said.

The federal grant comes with some sort of matching commitment from private industry, which in theory should add up to a billion dollars on-hand to build the huge facility, which is planned for the Samoa terminal currently owned by the Harbor District. The vision is that this new terminal will serve a nascent offshore wind industry along a large swath of the Pacific coastline, with absolutely massive floating windmills manufactured and assembled in Humboldt Bay, then towed out to the open sea by tug.

Chris Mikkelsen, Harbor District executive director

Not much was said about this matching commitment, or who exactly would be anteing up funds, and how that match affects the ultimate ownership of the new facilities. Crowley Wind Services, the would-be operator of the port, has not yet signed a deal with the Harbor District – the two sides are still in the “exclusive right to negotiate” phase of their relationship. Chris Mikkelsen, the Harbor District’s executive director, told the Outpost that the private match could come from many quarters: Crowley, a different operator, perhaps from the wind energy firms – the operators of the windmills – themselves.

Mikkelsen said that the district is trying to put together ways to communicate directly with the public on these sorts of sticky questions, perhaps in the form of quarterly updates. “No news is not good news,” Mikkelsen said.

This morning the Harbor District put out its own press release about the grant, and Crowley announced that it has purchased the country’s first all-electric tugboat.

More photos from yesterday’s event follow.

Rob Holmlund, Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation Conservation District Director of Development

Amy Monier, Crowley Wind Services’ director of projects for the Humboldt Offshore Wind Terminal Project

Congressman Huffman chats with Cal Poly Humboldt President Tom Jackson and Blue Lake Rancheria CEO of Business Operations Jason Ramos